Do you try to follow seasonal patterns or a Medicine Wheel / Wheel of the Year concept and find it difficult to connect and feel in sync sometimes? I have to admit that I do. And, I've been wondering why. Here are a few things I've noticed about why I feel out-of-touch sometimes with my own walk around the Medicine Wheel (north/earth, east/air, south/fire, west/water - or a variation of that).
1. I guess I'll state the obvious first, which is that industrialization and technology can buffer us from the truth of our environment. We can keep the lights on long after the sun goes down, and we can be warm when it's cold outside. But for me, this doesn't explain my sense of disconnect completely. There's something else.
2. The environment might not be synchronistic with the ideal of the season. My local area often does not reflect the seasonal energy. This probably doesn't happen to too many people, but I live in coastal Central California, and so our weather patterns don't really reflect the systems of the four-element Medicine Wheel. In the summer it's a paradox of dry and foggy... in the winter our grass grows green and lush because it is our wet season. And... perhaps obviously... it doesn't snow here. So that cozy wintry thing is often interrupted by 65 degree days. Just so you don't feel like California gets all the good weather... warm summers are punctuated by days of drizzly 55 degree foggy days too. Funny place I live.
3. The people around you might not be in synchrony with the season either. The hustle and bustle of the winter holiday season is a current example... and my lazy summer days of not having to get up to get kids to school feels like another. This is decidedly not true for everyone, but since I'm self-employed I get to set my own schedule. I guess the thing here is that our schedules have become detached from the seasons per-se. We operate independent of seasonal work.
4. This relates to #3, but there's something funny about how busy we all are. My dad was raised on a farm, and I know they worked hard all year round, so I don't want to idealize rural living 60 years ago as somehow less demanding. It may just be what we put our attention on these days... rather than having a task that takes time for us to complete (say feeding livestock, repairing fences, or crop care) we spend little time on any given task and jump quickly from one to the next.
Is that why we're so tired? We're taxing our ability to keep up with ourselves?
I don't have answers to this... I'm seriously just musing on this "out loud". I've just been noticing... as I do every year... that I have a tendency to "run late" with the seasons. Autumn is always very busy, and I tend to like it, right up to the beginning of December when I finally want to slow down. But at that point the light is about to return and the grass is growing lush... and I feel like I've missed something. It makes me feel like I'm always trying to catch up with "where I'm supposed to be".
So, if you've been feeling a little "off" of the season... I'm wondering if anything I said above rings true? How do you feel you fit with your environment?
I'm thinking more about this as we are beginning the Hero(ine)'s Journey in the Body Wisdom Healing Circle this in January. Where is it that we "begin"? What do we need to have in place in order to embark on a journey back to ourselves? Where do we align ourselves for reference?
If you haven't signed up for the 2016 Healing Circle we are working through The Hero(ine)'s Journey. We set the space for our beginning in December... and in January we are heeding the Call To Adventure... locating our reference points in the body and mind as we embark on our healing path.
My blogging has never been consistent... that's ok. But lately it's been bothering me and I've been thinking about what consistency brings us. What do we get for making ourselves show up even when resistance pops up?
Well, I guess first and foremost, I know what a lack of consistency does. When it's important stuff that we want to be consistent... it's about reliability and trustworthiness. I know that as a child, the sporadic nature of my connection with my parents was traumatic. It left a lasting sense that it was hard to trust people. Not that I expected them to be mean or neglectful... but that I just couldn't rely on them.
The place my lack of consistency shows up these days is in my own self-care. I tend to sign up for online courses that make my heart shine initially, but when the time for the course starts competing with time for other things... I often end up letting the course go. I don't finish them. Or... I commit to some daily practice of caring for my own soul, and within days I'm not doing it anymore.
And then later I regret it. Then I feel like I didn't follow through... and I feel like I can't always trust me to follow through for myself. I'm a die hard loyal for others... but not so much for me. Why should I get less of myself than others do?
Honestly, it's habit. And it's one that needs my attention to break it. It means that I do need to make myself do things even when I don't think I want to, just because I know they're good for me. This is backward to what I learned as a kid... that things should be easy... so always go the easy way.
This pattern... the one where I abandon myself and my intentions when my resistance comes up... that needs to change. The pattern I long for is that I can trust me to always be there... always showing up for what I need and want, even when the going gets tough.
I'm beginning again. Today. Literally.
I'm noticing the sacred in the every day... it's part of a 31 day course with Nissa Howard called #messageseverywhere. It's a bit like my sporadic nature practice (#naturemessages)... but... ya know... consistent and reliable.
What are you beginning again today? It's the full moon... what brings you such a sense of fulfillment that you're willing to do it for you... over and over again.
It's not all in your mind. In fact, there's a good chance it's in your BODY.
You know those days when you find yourself in a constant state of irritation with the kids/husband/job/demands? The kind of irritability where you feel guilty because although your mind tells you it's not that big of a deal, but you feel like you could lose your cool at any moment?
First, you're not alone. It is a common experience to have that internal conflict where you WANT to do what's on your To Do list AND you have the sense that a storm is brewing within. While part of the irritating situation does exist outside of the body, the storm is happening because something that feels irritating is also happening INSIDE THE BODY. When hormones are out of balance, there is a cellular level of irritation, that is ADDED to what is happening around you... and when all the cells are irritated... that's what your stormy feelings reflect.
Once irritation settles into the body it becomes self-perpetuating. Irritation produces tension and inflammation in nerves and muscles. Blood flow is decreased by the tension, which in turn decreases oxygenation and pH begins to become more acidic. Low oxygen and high acidity are irritating to cells, and the cycle of tension and irritation is perpetuated.
So, how do we break into such an IRRITATING cycle? I have included two tips that are tried and tested, yet simple and easy to integrate into your daily life to create quick and long-lasting change. One word of caution: don't mistake simple for unimportant.
1. Take slow deep breaths.
Sounds simple enough, yes? It is, but most of us don't do it.
Most of us breathe too shallow. By not expanding the lower lungs, making the belly move when you breathe, you deliver a bare minimum of oxygen to the body and brain, signaling your body that you are in danger.
The effect of shallow breathing is that we CREATE a stress response when there is no danger!
In dangerous times the body doesn't do repair work, or digest food well, or mount an immune response. If you are in a constant state of shallow breathing and perceived danger, you are likely to get sick often, have sluggish or painful digestion, and eventually have general body breakdowns.
By taking nice full, slow breaths deep into the lungs, you signal your body to drop into relaxation... which also happens to be the mode in which we are able to do cellular repair and mount a sufficient immune response. This is why noticing the breath is part of nearly every wellness practice.
Coming in a close second to breathing is... RESTING. Rest is undervalued in our society, but our bodies CRAVE it! Much of our tension comes from forcing ourselves to do the things "we should be doing", instead of listening to the cries of our bodies for more rest. It doesn't have to be sleep, although that's good too, but it does need to be RESTORATIVE.
For myself and many of my clients, I'm finding that truly restorative rest involves a true break from doing things. So, it's not doing yoga, or exercise, or creative projects, which do have high value and provide clarity of mind... but when I say REST, I mean that the muscles are not working, the mind is not solving problems. REST is committed time to simply BE.
Rest is best done laying down, and the more you practice true REST, the more you will train your body to TAKE BREAKS from the doing mode. And through this practice you will bolster your physical resilience. Your To Do list will still be there after 5, or 10, or 20 minutes of rest... and you can pick it back up... but with a REST practice you can teach your body to return quickly and easily to cellular rejuvenation.
One of the KEYS of true rest, though, is not letting your thoughts stress you out as you lay there! Breathing into the center of your head - between the temples and behind the eyes - is a practice that can keep you thoughts from taking over. This take practice... so if you notice a thought... just label it a thought... and go back to the breath and focussing on the center of the head. This is a very quiet space, and the more you practice going there, the easier and more restorative your rest periods will be.
As simple as these exercises may sound, they have changed my life and the lives of my clients. These tools offer your body significant shifts in the chemical processes available to it.
If you are noticing resistance to something so simple as part of your well-being plan... then ask yourself "Do I believe I have the capacity to change my situation?" and "Am I committed to my well-being and willing to take action?".
Consciously stepping out of the stress response to rest and rejuvenate mode can go a long way toward the body healing itself. If that's not enough, it may be necessary to take a holistic approach to unwinding the mental, emotional, and physical structures that hold the tension in place.
Here's to your well-being!
Early morning at the labyrinth. I find it anchoring to walk my prayers. And while the last few weeks have been a flurry of intensity and unfolding around me, I've been able to stay grounded... clear in who I am, what I do, and where it is appropriate for me to get involved.
As always, this is a learning experience... some of this I have travelled before... some I have not. Like the path of the labyrinth, what seems to be familiar is not the same as doing exactly the same thing over again. Even though I retrace my steps coming out of the labyrinth, I'm headed a different direction than the last time I was in that spot. As I walk back and forth I realize that there's always a movement toward the center... not of the labyrinth, but of me. It reminds me not to go too far in one direction, with my body or my thoughts, because my being is in the center... the center is home. It reminds me not to get overly involved in someone else's reality... that their reality often doesn't have anything to do with me. I can choose to support, but I can't live anyone else's life, or make choices for them based on what *I* think is right... and in truth, I don't want to. I have my hands full with my own life.
The labyrinth reminds me how important it is to be fully present at the center of my own life. How important it is to meet myself where I am, to flow with making and remaking decisions and commitments in each moment, and to make sure that I take care of myself so that I can be present for others.
I noticed how much this labyrinthine pattern is present in our lives... as we wind our way in, checking in with ourselves, meeting our needs, and being self-referential. And then, we spiral back out... to carry our gifts to the world as best we can express them at any moment. That repetition becomes a cycle, a homeostasis, where we are constantly in motion.
Last week we went camping, which always provides me with an opportunity for one of my favorite practices. It's a simple practice... just being still in nature and noticing whatever comes to my attention. One morning at our campsite I watched this woodpecker. She (I don't know that it was a female... it's just my chosen pronoun for this story) moved progressively closer to me as I watched... Then she drummed a few times, looked at me, and she flew away. She was beautiful and poignant, and I felt connected to her in some way. She had my attention and I thought over what I know about woodpeckers and what I might be aware of in my life that was related to her.
For me woodpeckers signify voice... as each species has a characteristic drumming pattern. They are common in forests with mature trees, as they depend on the infrastructure of large trees for their nest holes and for food. Because they are birds, they also signify freedom. They are not bound to two dimensions... they can rise to great heights... among the canopy of the trees... and so are closer to spirit.
So, for me, woodpeckers bode well for having created a reliable infrastructure in life... and that whatever I am currently building is likely to have a strong foundation. I also see woodpecker as indicating a unique voice, a singular way of being in the world, that is also on a conscious well-built foundation. She reminds me to care for my unique expression of life in all ways... mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. She reminds me that this awareness... of myself from many facets, is what brings me closer to Source.
Thank you dear woodpecker! I am honored by our interaction and the gifts of awareness you bring!
“When we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge others. … We tend to forget, though, the other audience that's influenced by our nonverbals: ourselves.”
This was a new idea for me recently: Maybe it's not just that our state of mind can influence our bodies... maybe this is a two way street. It's interesting to consider that we might also be taking cues from our physical body. It reinforces my perception that we have an internal relationship with ourselves that is very much like relationships we have with other people, only we fail to recognize it because we can never remove ourselves from it. It FEELS like it's us talking to ourselves, but really, it's what we've learned talking to us. It's what other people have told us, synthesized into a single voice in our heads. Anyway... it seems it's appropriate to add our very own body as another "voice" in this relationship.
I'm also going to admit that I've started standing in power poses in the morning. So far, I haven't been caught by my husband or my children, so they have no idea that I've been re-patterning my brain. They, maybe haven't noticed anything at all. But I sure have. My ability to continually deal with situations as they come up unexpectedly, the routine interruptions of trying to work at home over the summer, and to find ways to be productive (historically I've battled old family dynamics of being unproductive)... it's all been so different the last few days since I saw this TED talk!
I can't remember which of my incredibly awesome friends or colleagues posted this on Facebook, but I do have much gratitude for the things they post. This practice of standing powerfully is quickly becoming part of a 5-minute morning ritual where I stand tall, feel the power within (meaning that I summon words like capable, confident, strong, resilient...). I breathe deeply, receiving that sense of my essential self, and I release what no longer serves me. I give myself some appreciation for things that I know that I do well. And in less than five minutes I feel supercharged, positive, energetic, and totally ready to do what needs to be done for the day!
I'm still playing with my "daily" rituals (because I've admitted before that it's a challenge for me, right?). I'm actually taking an e-course about it. I'll share more about that as I work it out.
Click here to go to Amy Cuddy's TED talk about body language and it's influence on our perception of ourselves.
Metal is the counterbalance to Wood. While Wood is really expansive, Metal is contractive. The Metal Element is the framework, and has the benefits of providing structure, self-discipline, and critical thinking. However, unbalanced, it has a tendency to turn on itself with hyper-criticism, perfectionism, and collapse of inner order.
Metal is a tricky beast... as the self-discipline that is part of balanced metal... is that part that is so needed when metal is unbalanced... for it is through self-discipline that we can see the thing that is not right in front of us... the clarity that we so desperately need in our mis-alignment... is elusive. For instance, I remember once talking to a mentor of mine... I was working through some old medical trauma because I was facing a needed surgery. I was upset, irrationally fearful (a little is always normal... but whoa! I was getting kinda wacky...)... and I remember him saying that when we get into a mindset... a cycle of fears and doubts and anxiety... it is hard to see anything else that doesn't look like our current mental/emotional environment. We can even forget the totality of who we really are. This is what is happening when we say things like "I just don't feel like myself". When the Metal Element is unbalanced... it has a terrible habit of spinning out of control... reinforcing the "out-of-balance" through our inner critic.
So... it is through self-discipline (which I admit to having TOTALY resistance to in recent history)... that we are able to set down where we are in the moment to take a wider view of the situation. This is metal being flexible, using a foundation of our true essence, to use self-discipline to take a step back, and with clarity and discrimination, discern the true state of our Selves.
I'd like to offer that it is a practice of self-discipline that also allows us to hear our own story... played back through our cells. It is the willingness to sit in the quiet and listen to our body's subtle information streams... that supports our vitality. The discipline comes in the form of taking that time for ourselves regularly, creating (AND maintaining) a daily practice, or making sure our cups are filled through self-care. In that vein, a client and I are working together on a 21-day water-drinking challenge. We are both heavily influenced by our Metal Elements, and both need to be more regular around fluid intake. I hear that a habit can be created in 21 days... so I challenge you... what will you do for 21 days that you want to have as a daily practice (habit?)? And how will you stay accountable to the practice? Share in the comments if you feel so inclined! I'd love to hear from you!
I went out back to let the chickens out this morning... and I flushed some California quail from the bushes. I saw them fly up to safety, and immediately thought of how my thoughts are like that. They are often headed one direction... flush a new thought... and just like that my attention is elsewhere. The quail made me think of inspiration: beautiful, subtle, quiet... until something flushes them... and they become startlingly alive and present and worthy of attention. Oh sweet thoughts that appear from nowhere... but like the quail... when I see them and sit with them... are such gifts of the moment.
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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